Things I wish I'd realised

The last couple of week's d-i-y round here has all been about simple adaptations for a less-mobile family member who's come to live with us for a few time periods; just before that was a bout of refitting the daughter's room. Now the bulk of the work's done, there's a few things I wish I'd realised (mainly on the Making Assumptions front) before investing a chunk o' time. On the grounds that some of us will sometimes learn from mistakes, and so it might inform as well as entertain to hear a few of mine... and in no particular order...
* At least one plywood supplier with decent exterior-grade hardwood ply gives you boards with (I presume deliberately) different species veneers on either side. (In my case, one is "redder", the other "browner".) If you finish with varnish, the differences in colour are more marked after finishing than in the original slightly dusty state. So, guess who chose which sides to be the visible ones on the wheelchair/easy walk ramp on the basis of surface condition alone (minimal sanding needed) without realising the differences in colour...
* Just 'cos things are mass-produced doesn't mean they're identical. In the case of the handrail brackets (Screwfix's cheapie 17362) it's reasonable to assume the three screwholes are at the same position on the backing plate. But the arm which protrudes is pressed/welded into the back *after* the holes are drilled/stamped, and the rotation of the arm relative to the backing plate is - if not arbitrary - certainly variable by a good 10 degrees or so. This bit me, as I'd made up 9 lovingly cut and "semi-mitred" pieces of backing wood (about 9cm square by 18mm thick), since the relevant walls are plasterboard and I wanted to spread the load and particularly the digging-in of the bottom of the bracket plate into the wall. ("Semi-mitred" just means I tilted the plate on the circular saw by 25 degrees or so when cutting first the width of the plank, and then the sides of each bit of backing; simple to do, and looks a lot nicer than a straight cut). So far so nice. But I used one bracket as a template for the through holes on each bracket (the wood was effectively a big "washer", with screws going right through from bracket through wood and on into stud of wall where possible and plasterboard fixing - RediDriva - where not). Then smugly offer bracket and wood backing up to wall - and wonder why the *** the wood backing is well off the vertical when the supporting end of the handrail bracket is horizontal. Discover variation in brackets long *after* all 9 drilled with through-holes, of course. Gnash teeth, turn a couple of the worst 'uns upside-down for redrilling, leave a couple slightly off the vertical as a constant reminder of the perils of ass-U-mption ;-)
* Realising a little too late that the Other sort of plasterboard fitting I thought I'd try - Screwfix part 36664 hammer-in job - really really needs to have whatever is being screwed to the wall pressing hard against it. Otherwise the "hammer in" action is readily reversed as the screw pulls the fitting back out of the void behind the thing you're fixing to the wall - f'r example the empty space between the sides of the nice mitred shelf brackets. (Grr...)
On the positive front... the 'turbogold' screws, and their stainless-steel cousins for outdoor work, really are a Great Thing in eliminating predrilling of pilot holes (and sometimes clearance holes too, if you can press the top piece firmly against the bottom, though this isn't best practice); it's not half handy having several cordless drivers to hand to save changing bits every few seconds; the polystyrene 'non-slip' granules which Robbins Timber sell to add to a final coat of varnish for boat decks or similar look much too small, but are in fact just perfect (but will give you a patchy anti-slip finish if you brush the varnish out too thin - your brush will drag the liquid varnish further than the suspended beads); sanding down between varnish coats with very fine grit wet-n-dry makes a *real* difference to the smoothness of the final finish; "measure twice, cut once" is a stonking good mantra to incant; an 80grit flapwheel in a small anglegrinder is a darned effective softwood shaping tool - not subtle, needs a finer grit to tidy up, but works fast without burning or damaging the wood.
Anyone for any more "now I'll always remember" confessions?
Stefek
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On 14 Sep 2003 20:14:53 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@hp.com wrote:

This is commonplace. They may not be different species, just different quality grades.
Where did you get your timber from BTW ? Robbins, Avon Plywood or elsewhere ?
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Thanks for confirming it's commonplace - and therefore worth remembering, rather than just a one-off.

Robbins - seems like decent quality sheet (though the softwood I bought for the edging was pretty naff - I didn't feel like paying the extra for their "joinery grade" or whatever), and they're close by home - maybe a mile and a half away.
Cheers, Stekef
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<snipped>
It's a wise Eskimo that doesn't eat yellow snow. Now I'll always remember that. :-))
You sound as though everything is fine now Stefek, so you have learned from your mistakes. The things you've encountered are very common among all DIYers, and if anyone of them says they haven't done things like trying to build a house from the top down is a liar. :-))
As long as you had fun doing it, and you sounds as though you did, then you'll go a long way with your new found skills. Just wait till the neighbours hear about the things you can do, that's when you start to worry. LOL
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